Principals urge state to support schools in tackling obesity crisis

The research report released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) today, placing Ireland close to the top of the league table, is truly a cause of alarm. The Irish Primary Principals Network, the association which represents 6,600 primary principals and deputies nationwide, has been highlighting this emerging problem for a number of years.

 “Consistent marketing and targeting of children by food and drinks companies, particularly through TV advertisements contributes significantly to the issues”, stated IPPN President Mr Brendan McCabe. The IPPN President calls for increased investment in physical education programmes and facilities in primary school.

“What can we expect when many schools are forced to use their PE rooms as classrooms at the expense of children’s physical and mental well-being, all this in a time of food poverty affecting sections”, said Mr McCabe.

A recent IPPN survey shows that a massive 99% of school principals believe that the school has a positive role to play in a child’s healthy lifestyle. The same poll shows that 92% of school leaders disapprove of product promotion in schools.

The IPPN President calls for an increase in the time given to physical education in schools from one hour to two hours and urges that the Department of Education and Skills ensures every school has a PE Hall.

Mr Sean Cottrell, CEO of IPPN, stated that “Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) is vital for young children yet it is only allocated a 30 minutes per week in our schools. Healthy eating, health promotion and physical wellbeing are being neglected through curriculum overload. Although almost all schools have healthy eating polices in place, this is not enough to stem the tide of obesity in our younger generations.”

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